Nurse, Student, Volunteer: Learning Experience Enriched Through Community Service

Going to college can be very busy and exhausting. There’s homework, family, jobs ect. So the thought of volunteering can seem like a waste of time with no benefits. However, the opposite is true.

Volunteers get exposure working with different people and jobs. Often there is little commitment, so people can volunteer as time permits. The same is true for students who volunteer.

Joan Raney, Clark College’s nursing division program coordinator said the college requires nursing students have at least 40 hours of logged volunteer work. The purpose is to help students learn how to work with diverse people.

According to Diana Espinoza, activities coordinator with local non-profit Friends of the Carpenter, no matter how many times a person volunteers somewhere, there is always new people to meet and skills to learn.

“Volunteering is important to not just other people but to yourself,” Espinoza said. “It creates a sense of purpose and fulfillment for a person knowing they have helped someone.”

That is why Clark requires 40 hours. Each hour is different from the last. One week could be smooth and relaxing while the next week there could be a person who needs specific help.

In the nursing field, every patient is a new person with a different personality or disability. It is not just hospitals that use nurses skills. Shelters, home care and other such businesses are great opportunities to learn.

Engaging in community projects is a great way to meet new people. (Friends of the Carpenter)
Engaging in community projects is a great way to meet new people. (Friends of the Carpenter)

Some experiences that qualify are long-term care agencies, formal hospital volunteer programs, camps for disabled and chronically ill children, special Olympics involvement, homeless shelter support, volunteering with school nurses in health-related activities, outreach programs or health-related missions and volunteering at First Aid stations.

Ivana Franic, a graduate from the program volunteered at Friends of the Carpenter, a day center for the homeless. There, she helped people with showering and clothing. She said that this work helped her gain valuable insight on how to help people with disabilities and stubborn people.

“It can be very challenging to find places to volunteer at, but classes can only teach facts. When you volunteer, you learn how to talk with people and the best ways to help people with different personalities,” Franic said, recounting her experiences in the program.

Kimberly Crapser, vice president of Addictions Counseling Educational Counseling (A.C.E.S), says going out to volunteer and help these organizations is a great way to get connections and to meet potential employers.

“I find that when I come to these organizations multiple times that people start to say ‘Hey, I know you,’” Crapser said. “So when I am ready I already have connections with employers.”

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